Sephora, one of the first brands to bring a retail-focused chatbots to messaging platforms, announced the availability of two additional bot-powered beauty tools for Facebook's Messenger.
The new Sephora Reservation Assistant allows customers to book appointments for makeovers at Sephora stores nationwide, while Color Match for Sephora Virtual Artist offers a shade matching extension of the existing Virtual Artist bot, which scans images and instantly provides the closest lipstick color match from Sephora's inventory.
Sephora developed Color Match in partnership with Modiface, which builds augmented reality tools for beauty applications.
Sephora has been on top of the chatbot trend from the very beginning. While it's now on Messenger and building out its capabilities on that platform, the beauty retailer developed a bot for Kik even earlier, and has been one of a handful of retailers forcing the broader sector to take notice of what's happening with bots.
Sephora first announced Virtual Artist in early 2016, and brought it to Messenger and added some new features back in July. The addition of the Reservation Assistant and Color Match tools suggests that the bot is a hit with Sephora customers, and that they are eager for a wider range of bot benefits.
"Our two new bots for Messenger offer enhanced ways for our clients to engage with Sephora by streamlining how they access relevant service and product information on their mobile devices," Sephora SVP of Digital Mary Beth Laughton said in a press release. "We're excited to leverage the Messenger platform to create quick and natural conversational interactions that are client-led. This allows us to provide richer, more varied conversations that ensure clients get exactly what they want out of the experience."
As Laughton suggests, the expansion is not so much about Sephora making an aggressive marketing push across social media: It's more about creating interaction opportunities driven by the customers themselves. Bots can make those interactions easier and more natural for customers to initiate, and the more tools, features and buy capabilities retailers can give them through bots, the stronger those customer relationships will be.
Sephora isn't the only company that gets it, either. Many more companies, such as eBay, are crafting new chatbots on Messenger with a variety of capabilities. In eBay's case, it is even willing to make a still wet-behind-the-ears chatbot available to the masses to help it learn and build up knowledge of how to work with customers. It's still early in the chatbot evolution, but we are starting to see more example of what retailers can do with it — and, in Sephora's case, to what extent they can continue to build on it.